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COLLECTION Identifier: HOLLIS 601665

Louis B. Sohn papers


The materials in this collection relate to Sohn’s career as a teacher and his other activities in the field of international law.


  • Creation: 1936 - 1978

Conditions Governing Access

Access to these papers is governed by the rules and regulations of the Harvard Law School Library. This collection is open to the public, but is housed off-site at Harvard Depository and requires 2 business-day advance notice for retrieval. Consult the Special Collections staff for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Harvard Law School Library holds copyright on some, but not all, of the material in our collections. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be directed to the Special Collections staff. Researchers who obtain permission to publish from the Harvard Law School Library are also responsible for identifying and contacting the persons or organizations who hold copyright.


150 boxes

This collection spans the years 1936 to 1979, and includes correspondence; memoranda; agenda and minutes of meetings; reports; financial records; lists; documents; lecture and research notes; drafts; galleys; near-print manuscripts; notebooks; indexes; newspaper clippings and other printed items; and photos. Some of the material is in languages other than English.

The papers of Louis B. Sohn relate to his professional activities as a teacher and scholar in the field of international law; to his participation, in the U.S. and abroad, in conferences concerned with efforts toward world peace and international order and cooperation; to his role in the formation of the United Nations organization in particular, and his subsequent work on the United Nations Charter Revision and United Nations commissions concerned with such problem areas as human rights and the law of the sea; to his formulation, with the late Grenville Clark, of a concept of a "world peace through world law," and their translation of their ideas into a basic treatise by that name; to speaking engagements concerned with disarmament, peacekeeping and international responsibility of States for injuries to aliens; and to his membership in all of the major professional organizations, and committees of other organizations, in the field of international law. There is a small group of notes and seminar papers of Louis B. Sohn while he was engaged in graduate work at Harvard, and another small group consisting of biographical items such as sketches for various biographical reference works, travel itineraries and family letters.

Correspondence includes both letters received and carbons of letters sent. It consists mainly of correspondence with colleagues, publishers, law review editors, students, alumni, and other internationalists. Among Professor Sohn's correspondents are: Henry B. Cabot; Grenville Clark; Alan Cranston; Manley O. Hudson; Philip C. Jessup; William L. Ransom.

The material created by Professors Sohn and Richard R. Baxter in connection with their project Codification of International Law Relating to the Responsibility of States was placed with the Manley O. Hudson Papers (Harvard Law School Library), Series: Harvard Law School Research in International Law (Addenda): Responsibility of States, MS Box 58-1 to MS Box 67-11; these folders contain drafts, documents, Articles, and comments on Articles.

Historical/Biographical Information

Sohn, Louis Bruno, law professor, international mediator, legal scholar.

b. Lwow, Poland, March 1, 1914.

s. Joseph and Fryderyka (Hescheles) Sohn.

LL.M. and Dipolomatic Sc.M., John Casimir University, Lwow, Poland, 1935.

Research fellow, Institute of Private International Law, John Casimir University, 1935-1939.

Came to U.S., 1939, naturalized 1943.

m. Elizabeth Mayo.

LL.M., Harvard, 1940; S.J.D., 1958; Addison Brown Prize, 1941.

Research Associate of Judge Manley O. Hudson, Bemis Professor of International Law at the Harvard Law School, 1941-1946; Research fellow in international law, 1946-1947; lecturer in law, 1947-1951; assistant professor of law, 1951-1953; John Harvey Gregory Lecturer in World Organization, 1951-1981; professor of law, 1953-1961; Bemis Professor of International Law, 1961-1981; Woodruff Professor of International Law, University of Georgia School of Law, 1981-

Consultant, Naval War College, 1960-1963; U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1961-; Office of International Security Affairs, Department of Defense, 1963-

Assistant to delegation, Permanent Court of International Justice; San Francisco Conference of the United Nations, 1945.

Executive secretary, Subcommittee on Atomic Energy, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1946.

Assistant reporter on progressive development in international law, American and Canadian bar associations, 1947-1948.

Consultant, United Nations Secretariat, 1948, 1969; legal officer of the Codification Division, United Nations, 1950-1951.

Counselor, International Law, Department of State, 1970-1971.

U.S. Delegate to consecutive sessions of the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea, 1971-

Member: American Bar Association; American Society of International Law (member executive council 1954-1957; vice president 1965-1966); World Parliament Association (legal advisor 1954-1964); International Law Association (vice-president, American branch); American Law Institute; Federation of American Scientists (vice-chairman 1963, member council 1964-1965, 1968-1969); Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (chairman 1968-); Institute for International Order (board of directors 1965); National Citizens' Commission for International Cooperation (chairman 1965); American Academy of Arts and Sciences).

Honorary Admiral in the Texas Navy; honorary member, American Bar Association; "Hero of Peace" award, World Federalists of Canada, 1974.


  1. (with M.O. Hudson) International Legislation v.8 and 9
  2. Laws and Regulations on the Regime of the High Seas, 2v., 1951-1952.
  3. (with G. Clark) World Peace Through World Law, 1958; 3rd ed. 1966.
  4. (with T. Buergenthal) International Protection of Human Rights, 1973.
  5. (with R.R. Baxter and Garcia Amador) Recent Codification of the Law of State Responsibility, 1974.
  6. Also articles and book reviews in legal and international journals.


  1. Cases on World Law, 1950.
  2. Cases on United Nations Law, 1956; 2nd ed. 1967.
  3. Basic Documents of African Regional Organizations, 4v., 1971-1972.

Journal Editor:

  1. Development in International Law, American Bar Association Journal, 1947-1950.
  2. Member, board of editors, American Journal of International Law.

Series List

  1. Series I. General Correspondence: Major Correspondence

    This Series consists of letters received and carbons of letters sent, in addition to a sizeable amount of mimeographed material and other types of copies of agenda of meetings, reports, papers read at meetings, speeches, etc. The Series mainly relates to Sohn's professional activities such as his involvement in the work of professional organizations and conferences dealing with international legal matters, plans for meetings in the U.S. and abroad, correspondence regarding requests for articles and invitations to speak, and some correspondence relating to his publications in the field of international law.

    Arrangement of this Series is alphabetical. Materials in most of the folders transferred were filed with the most recent date on top, and this order was preserved in order to keep undated enclosures and other undated items in their proper sequence. Some entries were subdivided by chronological periods by Sohn himself, and these subdivisions were retained.

  2. Series II. General Correspondence: Miscellaneous Correspondence

    This Series contains correspondence of less significance. Topics covered are professional and semi-professional in nature relating to Sohn's teaching activities, his writings, public appearances, membership in organizations in which he did not participate in major roles, travel matters connected with professional appearances, and letters from former students and from colleagues at institutions other than Harvard.

    The Series is initially arranged chronologically by calendar year, and later by academic year. Within each period, arrangement is alphabetical by correspondent. Materials cover the period 1938 to 1969. There was no correspondence for the period 1951 through 1954.

  3. Series III. Writings: Early and Major Works (other than WPTWL)

    This Series consists of drafts for Sohn's writings, research notes, galley proofs, page proofs, and documents that he incorporated into his writings. The Series includes material he retained from his years in Poland and France. The period covered is 1936 through 1972. Correspondence regarding publication matters of some of these titles may be found in the Major Correspondence Series under Sohn, Louis B.

    Basic Documents of the United Nations was intended to be used in conjunction with Cases on United Nations Law.

  4. Series IV. Writings: World Peace Through World Law, and Other Related Publications

    This Series contains joint writings of Sohn and Grenville Clark in which they offered various proposals for achieving permanent world peace: through law, disarmament, peace institutes, and world development organizations. There is a considerable amount of correspondence between Sohn and Clark relating to their joint authorship and to publication matters. Writings are in various stages, from holograph notes to page proof. Some requests and comments are included.

    The first edition of World Peace Through World Law was published in 1958, the second (revised) edition in 1960, and the third (enlarged) edition in 1966, with the subtitle: Two Alternative Plans.

    In the folder list, Peace Through Disarmament and World Peace Through World Law have been abbreviated to PTD and WPTWL, respectively.

    For additional correspondence between Sohn and Clark, see the Major Correspondence Series under Clark, Grenville.

  5. Series V. Writings: Articles, Speeches, Book Reviews, Miscellaneous

    Titles in this Series are occasional pieces, mainly of a professional nature. The Series is arranged chronologically by date of publication delivery. Manuscripts are in holograph, typed or near-print form, with Sohn's corrections.

  6. Series VI. Student and Teaching Notes

    These are early materials and consist mainly of notes for courses that Sohn took after he came to Harvard, dating between 1939 and 1941. Also included are manuscripts of papers he wrote, and a small amount of materials for courses he taught between 1947 and 1952. Arrangement is chronological.

  7. Series VII. United Nations and Other International Activities: Early Papers

    This Series deals with the United Nations Conference on International Organization, and other pre-armistice (WWII) attempts at drawing up a charter for a general international organization to insure a permanent peace. Sohn attended the May 1945 San Francisco meeting. Included are drafts, reports, lists, tables, minutes and agenda of meetings, correspondence, and printed items. Arrangement is roughly chronological.

  8. Series VIII. United Nations and Other International Activities: Post-WWII

    This Series covers the dates 1949-1950 and 1970-1973. The main portion of Sohn's post-WWII international activities will be found in the General Correspondence Series (Major Correspondence), under names of organizations, conferences, journals, and individuals.

  9. Series IX. Biographical, Bibliographical, Personal

    This Series contains odds and ends of a personal-biographical, personal-professional, and personal-financial nature, arranged chronologically.

  10. Series X. Contingent II.

    The Subseries in this Contingent contain similar types of materials as those described in the Series Notes for Contingent I. Dates of this Contingent span the years 1969 through 1972. Letters in folder marked "Important Letters" (110-3) cover the years 1965 through 1967. Folders headed "Human Rights" (109-9 through 110-2) include a few 1973 items.

  11. Series XI. Contingent III.

    Each Suberies in this Contingent accounts for one academic year. Within each subseries, entries for folders are arranged alphabetically, and chronologically within a folder (or folders). Following the subject, each of the subseries contains files marked "Miscellaneous Correspondence" and "Correspondence With Foreign Countries," respectively. The period covered spans the academic years 1972/1973 through 1978/1979.

    Scope and content of the subseries in this Contingent is similar to materials included in Contingent II.

  12. Series XII. Contingent IV.: Harvard Law School
  13. Series XIII. Contingent V.: Addenda

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The papers of Louis B. Sohn, law professor, international mediator and legal scholar, were transferred to the Harvard Law School Library as a gift by Professor Sohn in contingents of varying sizes at periodic intervals.

Processing Information

Prepared by Erika S. Chadbourn and Staff, June 1978; July 1985.

Sohn, Louis B. Papers, 1936-1979: Finding Aid.
Harvard Law School LibraryCambridge, MA 02138
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Law School Library, Historical & Special Collections Repository

Harvard Law School Library's Historical & Special Collections (HSC) collects, preserves, and makes available research materials for the study of the law and legal history. HSC holds over 8,000 linear feet of manuscripts, over 100,000 rare books, and more than 70,000 visual images.

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